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GRAINS-Soybeans climb 1.6% on edible oil supply concerns
* Malaysia curbs raise concerns over palm oil output
* Wheat rises for 2nd day on bargain-buying; corn firms (Adds details on palm oil, quote; updates prices)
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures jumped 1.6% on Wednesday as Malaysia's move to shut down businesses to contain the rapidly spreading caronavirus raised concerns over production of rival palm oil.
Corn ticked higher after dropping to its lowest since June 2018 earlier in the session, while wheat gained on bargain-buying.
"Palm oil production is likely to drop and that is going to result in higher demand for soybean oil," said one Singapore-based trader.
"For wheat and corn, we have some opportunity for importers to lock deals at lower prices."
Malaysian palm oil futures jumped more than 5% in early trade, while U.S. soybean oil gained 2.5%.
The most-active soybean futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade rose 1.6% to $8.37-1/4 a bushel by 0303 GMT, having firmed 0.3% on Tuesday.
Palm oil plantations in Malaysia will have to stop operations for the next two weeks to comply with government orders to shut non-essential businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus, a producer group said.
Malaysia has closed its borders and restricted internal movement by shutting schools and businesses from Wednesday until March 31, after the number of infections in the country climbed to the highest in Southeast Asia.
Global commodity and stock markets are being weighed down by the economic impact of the virus.
Corn added 0.2% to $3.44-3/4 a bushel after hitting its lowest since June 2018 at $3.42-1/4 a bushel. Corn fell 3% in the previous session. Wheat gained for a second day, up 0.4% at $5.01-1/4 a bushel.
U.S. stock futures stepped back in choppy early Asian trade as concerns about the widening coronavirus epidemic weighed against hopes policy support would combat its economic fallout.
Demand for U.S. farm exports has been stifled by a stronger dollar as companies and investors seek the most liquid currency in an uncertain market.
A stronger dollar makes U.S. commodities relatively more expensive on the global market.
The Trump administration on Tuesday supplemented a global effort to combat the pandemic, by unveiling a $1 trillion stimulus package that could deliver $1,000 cheques to Americans within two weeks.
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Tuesday said good-to-excellent ratings for hard red winter wheat in Kansas, the top production state for the crop, slipped to 46% from 47%. But ratings improved in Texas and Oklahoma.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT corn and soymeal futures on Tuesday, traders said. They were net buyers of CBOT wheat, soyoil and soybeans. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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